Team Target Finishes 12th and 22nd at Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 6, 2008)-The second round of the IndyCar Series started in wet conditions Sunday in St. Petersburg after rain soaked the street course minutes...
Team Target Finishes 12th and 22nd at Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (April 6, 2008)-The second round of the IndyCar Series started in wet conditions Sunday in St. Petersburg after rain soaked the street course minutes before the green flag dropped. The scheduled 100-lap distance was shortened to 83 laps with Dan Wheldon finishing 12th (No. 10 Target Honda Dallara) and teammate Scott Dixon 22nd (No. 9 Target Honda Dallara).
Both Wheldon (started eighth) and Dixon (started 13th) changed from slick to treaded tires on pit lane before rolling off for the start of the race, which took several yellow flag laps before going green in a single-file format. By the first full course caution for debris on lap 15, Wheldon had moved up to sixth with Dixon close behind in eighth.
On lap 41, the course began to dry and the No.10 team were first to make the call for slick tires. Wheldon followed suit and made the same move on lap 43. The fourth full course caution came on lap 57 when Ryan Briscoe got into the wall, and race strategy began to play out as the event would run within the 2 hour time window instead of the scheduled 100-lap distance.
On lap 68 with the Target cars running nose to tail in fifth (Dixon) and sixth (Wheldon), the turning point was right around the corner for Dixon when he came to pit lane on lap 75 with left rear suspension problems. The No. 10 team encountered a similar fate on the final restart when a mechanical problem slowed the No. 9 car heading into Turn 1, which resulted in Wheldon having contact and spinning out of the top 10 to finish 12th (lead lap).
With a 22nd place finish, Dixon dropped one position to second in the IndyCar championship race with 62 points (-10 to leader Castroneves), with Wheldon moving from third into a three-way tie for fourth with 53 points (-19).
Scott Dixon "It was fun overall. I think everyone was having fun out there. I can tell you it was tough figuring out who was on what strategy out there though. With the start in the wet and everything, there was a lot of jumbling around and different strategies playing out. In the end, the left rear suspension gave way and we had to come to pit lane. That was it."
Dan Wheldon "Obviously we would have liked to maintain our position there at the end of the race, but we had a mechanical problem and I had guys going around me left and right on the restart. I was just along for the ride at that point and got spun around. It's unfortunate because although we weren't great, we could have finished much higher than we did. We left a few points on the table."